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Squonk Opera's Cycle Sonic to Put the Beat in Artbeat

By Carrie Beth Wallace

The name may sound unfamiliar and a bit eccentric, but there's one thing certain about Squonk Opera - they're going to fit in just fine around here.

With a pension for art, music, and bicycles, Squonk Opera's Cycle Sonic promises the kind of street party that's just our city's style. It's a good thing too, because Squonk is on its way just in time for Artbeat 2019.

Squonk Opera is performance art. Part concert, part art show, and part parade, Squonk boasts bulb-horns, whirligigs, rock instruments, flags, puppets, and live musicians that all work together to form the ruckus that is Cycle Sonic.

Squonk is a street party and a concert all in one. Parade floats function as double decker bike-stages powered by the performers' legs and rolling to the backdrop of the group's own chamber rock music. Percussion is conveyed through the sounds of wheels and pedals as giant animated bikers circle the audience. Flags and 20-foot puppetry elements pump the rhythm of the eco-friendly rolling act. Everything is self-propelled by the musicians themselves, meaning Cycle Sonic has an absolute zero carbon footprint.

Video courtesy of RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.

Norman Easterbrook, RiverCenter's Executive Director, is ecstatic to bring these free performances by Squonk to our city. "These free, family-friendly events are outdoor concerts unlike anything you’ve ever seen before,” said Easterbrook.

Four outdoor performances will be given by Squonk during their residency here this weekend. From Thursday through Saturday, Columbusite's will witness Cycle Sonic at two different locations around town.

“Squonk Opera is a delightfully frivolous and engaging performing company,” said Easterbrook.  “Their productions all take place outdoors and are full-on celebrations peppered with a bit of mystery and mayhem.  Audiences will be thrilled with what they experience and will be left with the question, “How did they do that?”

Think you'll be one of the curious ones? Great! Each of the thirty- minute performances are followed by a “backstage tour” to show the audience the mechanics and construction of the larger-than-life sets and props used in the performance. 

“RiverCenter is proud to sponsor Squonk Opera as our community engages in Artbeat, joining with our companion arts organizations in celebrating the richness of the Columbus cultural arts community,” said Easterbrook.

Keep in mind that the performances will all be outdoors. For additional information, contact the RiverCenter box office, 900 Broadway, Monday-Friday between the hours of 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., by phone at (706) 256-3612, and online at ◼︎

Editor's Note: It's helpful to know that while these performances are family-friendly, they may not be sensory friendly. While we whole-heartedly recommend all of RiverCenter's family-friendly programming to you, we understand that certain aspects of a show can be alarming to young children and to children with sensory sensitivities. RiverCenter offers sensory performances to many of their programs, but this particular one is not designated as such. If you are concerned, we recommend calling ahead to ask for more information about the show. As the performances are all outside, they can be enjoyed from a distance if necessary as well.

If You Go:

What: Outdoor performances of Squonk Opera: Cycle Sonic

Showtimes and Locations:

Thursday, April 4, 5:30 p.m. at the Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road

Friday, April 5, 5:30 p.m. at RiverCenter’s Illges Plaza on 10th and Broadway.

Saturday, April 6 for two performances at 10 a.m. and Noon, also at RiverCenter’s

Illges Plaza.

Cost: Free! Performances of Squonk Opera: Cycle Sonic are sponsored by Liberty Utilities. The 2018-19 RiverCenter Season is sponsored by Aflac.


Images in this article are from Squonk Opera's website and are attributed to John Altdorfer, Emily O'Donnell, and Renee Rosensteel.


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